Benjamin “Ben” Liboro, program director of the Lopez Achievement Awards (LAA) and concurrent president of Asian Eye Institute, one of the great things about the Lopez Group’s business excellence recognition program is its being a running history of the great achievements of the different companies of the Group.For
He says: “Every five years, we publish a compendium and in it you will read about companies, some of which are not with the Group anymore. You will read about people, some of whom may have already passed on. But there, it is recorded that we (the Group) did something good. When I think back to those days before 1986 [when chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez (OML) returned to head First Philippine Holdings Corporation (FPH)], people also did very good things that had to be done to survive, but who remembers them today? Would we still be around if they didn’t do the good things that they did?”
Ups and downs
Liboro was among 22 regular employees OML found at FPH when the Lopez family decided to rehabilitate the businesses forcibly taken away from them under martial law. He joined the company in 1979 and has seen it go through many ups and downs as it navigated through business cycles in uncertain times, and then transformed itself into the conglomerate that it is today.
“Early on, OML understood that to survive, especially in manufacturing and power generation, we had to compete against our traditional competitors and against foreign companies entering the Philippines. Many local conglomerates were expanding beyond their traditional areas, so we had to be competitive. The first thing he did was to benchmark against international best practices,” recalls Liboro.
That was how the FPH group began continuous improvement through the adoption of ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and ESH (Environment, Safety and Health) standards, Six Sigma and the Malcolm Baldrige framework for quality. When OML became Group chair in 1999, he expanded the coverage of the quality programs to the rest of the Lopez Group.
Liboro was part of the ad hoc Business Excellence team that scouted models of recognition programs a couple of years before the LAA began giving out annual recognition in 2002. As a leader, he feels constantly challenged to make things successful. For the LAA, his primary goal is to protect the integrity of the program.
“We need the trust of the Lopez family and of the CEOs to administer a program like this. We cannot undermine the values they uphold by recognizing the wrong things. The LAA remains as a channel for showing appreciation to our fellow workers in the group. Of course, our hearts also go out to the nonwinners. We don’t want people to go unrecognized, but we can only encourage them. We have to respect the way the judges see their achievements.”
For Rosendo “Ross” Hamo Jr., LAA program manager since last year, he is grateful to note the very active involvement of the Lopez family and the support of most senior leaders and employees for the program. On the other hand, the challenge lies first in enhancing the appreciation of all employees of the real value of the excellence program and, second, in harnessing internal expertise in support of the program.
“Excellence requires the installation of certain disciplines, processes, systems and standards from planning to execution. These must be owned by everyone concerned. We have to show to our leaders how these are relevant and why they have to be continuous, in order to sustain their support. We also have to turn to internal subject matter experts and have them join us in shaping and reshaping the different LAA categories to make them even more relevant to the times and supportive of the strategic directions and objectives of the Lopez Group, thereby contribute to further strengthening the conglomerate via collaboration,” says Hamo.
Solid HR management experience
Carrying with him more than nine years of solid HR management experience as former HR Head of a company from the Ayala Group, Hamo first joined the Lopez Group through Adtel Inc. where he worked for over four years as director for the Corporate Services Group comprised of HR, Quality Management, Purchasing, Logistics and Warehousing. He was also concurrently designated during his last two years as the operations head of Adtel’s subsidiary, Accesslink.
In 2006, he joined FPH as HR manager to handle learning and development, integrating the function, linking it to corporate strategies and objectives, and establishing metrics. He was also concurrently assigned to manage in an ad hoc capacity the Lopez Lifelong Wellness initiative in behalf of the Lopez Group HR Council in 2011. His two-year tour of duty with Lifelong Wellness saw the engagement of the senior executives during their respective companies’ Walk the Talk (WTT) sponsorships, the formal inclusion of the Emergency Response Team of Energy Development Corporation into the WTT program core team, and the successful staging of the values-themed Lopez Group Palaro in 2011. More WTT activities were done in new venues within and outside of Metro Manila, with very strong participation from employees and their families.
Hamo says he aspires to be a person of significance in any area to which he is assigned.
“I want to be able to contribute my best and to strategically support the direction set by the senior leaders of the group. And that’s where I wish LAA to be: to be an effective vehicle in strengthening the Lopez Values, the culture of excellence, as well as the competitiveness and sustainability of the Lopez conglomerate.”
Liboro tells LopezLink readers to take inspiration from the stories of LAA winners.
“If you really get into the stories, you will learn why people do the things they do, what motivates them (toward excellence). You’ll see that they do it for their companies, for themselves, for their colleagues, for their own reasons; but seldom will they do it for money or for awards. Take inspiration from that.”
Hamo invites all Lopez Group kapamilya to aspire to be counted among the best of the best in the Lopez Group.
Learn from LAA winners
“Learn from and be inspired by examples set by the LAA winners, the Unsung Heroes and the Lifetime Achievement awardees. They showcase and serve as indicators of the Group’s strength at a certain point in time. Always give your best and aspire to be counted among them. Also, be a hero for others by nominating deserving individuals and teams. Let them be recognized! Nominate and be part of the lifeblood of the program, help ensure the continuous celebration of excellent achievements by great people and colleagues, and keep the inspiration and the fire burning as we rally as one towards greater heights.” (Story/Photos by: Carla Paras-Sison)